Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do I Have To?

My husband and I have been married for nearly 10 years, and it’s really been a blast... nonetheless, I still ponder the sermon the minister gave at our wedding with a dissatisfied mind. Because the church where i did all my growing, where we were married, and where the pastor who married us works, can only be described as Evangelical. The name of the church has “Bible Church” in it, so I’m guessing it won’t be hard for you to figure out that they put quite a bit of weight on the words printed in the Bible.

The Bible has a lot to say about marriage.
And the Bible says a lot of things about marriage: that it is an actual joining of two people, that it’s sexy, that you should get married if you can’t keep your hands off each other, that it’s a picture of how much God loves His people, that husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies, and ... yes... that wives should submit to their husbands. There are a lot of mysteries in Christianity, and this one, to me, is the most... mysterious. As in “Do I have to?”

I'm sure that if you're not familiar with this kind of teaching, this sounds awfully archaic and extremely unhip... I bet you thought only churches that oppressed women and bashed gays taught such things... not the case. Our church is full of all kinds of Christians... from right to left... In fact, when our church was founded, the women TOLD the men they would be in charge – because they knew if they weren't forced to be out front, the women would end up doing all the work! But, aside from this, the teaching is based on actual words in the Bible, so I have always been willing to consider them. I do find other parts of the Bible pertinent to modern life, after all.

When I was single and these things were discussed, it was all just theory to me, so I really had no problem with it... because of course, in my silly mind, should I ever get married, it would be to a perfect man who would make perfect decisions and be really nice about everything all the time. Then when I actually got engaged, and were having the premarital counseling... we went over those scriptures, and I nodded in assent because, while I knew my husband-to-be was not perfect, he IS brilliant and has a good heart... and he also had some rules to follow on MY behalf. So in my mind, working with him as a team on major issues and decisions would not be a problem. Actually, I don’t know what was in my mind at the time... not much... just love and eagerness. 

BAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! If you’re married, you’re laughing at least this hard, right? It does not take long to figure out that the person you married is not perfect – and, worst of all, neither are you. In fact, I’d have to say that it became painfully obvious to me, at the very beginning that I lacked so much of what it took to be a good wife that the only hope I had was to let God make up the difference. This, I would have to say, is a bizarre sort of benefit of marriage – you find out quick how much you need God!

My husband and I have one mind on a lot of topics; we have similar interests and great fun together... but there are some issues we butt heads on whenever they come up. I’ve got to say that submission is not my first – or even second – reaction in these situations. And, fortunately, even though my husband is an oldest child with a tendency to be bossy, he doesn’t often “command” me to do things. We tend to decide things together, more often than not – to give and take... submit to one another's desires. On the very rare occasions where he has TOLD me to do something, I, of course, thought, “NO! NO! A THOUSAND TIMES NO!” What often happens next, though, is that I realize that he’s actually helping me make up my mind in situation where I have no idea what to do.
Jesus, partying at a wedding.

Like once in the beginning of my freelance life, a designer I was working for owed me some money and it didn’t look like she was ever going to pay me. I knew she had a bunch of deadlines coming up and didn’t want her to lose the business because then I would NEVER get paid... I sort of agonized about it because, short of suing, I really had no recourse. Finally, my husband just said, "Just don’t work for her anymore unless she pays you." And he didn’t say it in a helpful suggestion kind of way... It was more like an authoritative head of household (aka alpha male) decision. I hated him telling me what to do... But it was actually very helpful. Who knows how long I would have been that woman's sucker had he not given much such firm direction? 

Because as personalities go, my husband is a fixer. He hones right in on what went wrong in a situation and what can be done to fix it and prevent it happening again... It can be extremely irritating, but over time, I have come to lean on this strong part of my husband’s temperament. Less hard decisions for me! Yay!

That said, I do still scratch my head over the command to wives to submit to their husbands... I mean, we’re supposed to submit to him as the church submits to Christ... but no one gets to be married to a guy as awesome as Jesus, right? Not even close. And what if your husband is a humongous jerk? or abusive? or just not bright? I can’t know. See? It’s a mystery... one that I am not much closer to solving than I was 10 years ago...

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